firm active: 1907-1921

minneapolis, minnesota :: chicago, illinois
philadelphia, pennsylvania :: portland, oregon

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Writings by William Gray Purcell
The Parabiographies manuscripts (circa 1930s-1950s)

This is a one page introduction that appears in the beginning of the Parabiographies and also was included in various presentation books or later manuscript drafts.


Purcell and Feick
Architects -- 1907

It was twenty below zero in Minnesota. The thin lemon sunlight, as tight as frozen sailcloth, slatted past the soft flowing sleeping cars. Through the triple glazed Pullman windows could be seen the clustered dusty tubes of grain elevators. Black sheds along the river clattered away behind as if in tow by passing freight trains. Once outside the railway station, one felt tight and small; hurrying freezing gloved hands to yellow street cars; elbowing up grated platform steps; pressing into crowded street car aisles. between the people sitting or swaying on their legs all the various space was filled with frozen gray dust, with the gusty talk of Swedes going to work.

Now arrived in Minneapolis, George Feick and his partner in architecture soon rented a room in a great old-fashioned home filled with a company of agreeable boarders. They found an office on the tenth floor of the New York Life Building. When they looked down from windows set deep in masonry walls even at that height, they saw one new brick building, and between the old ones, some ancient wooden dwellings -- very grand in their day. Beyond were the rough rock walls and towers, the many steep tile roofs, of the block square Romanesque courthouse; nationally famous palace of civic corruption since 1889.

Then these architects spread their drawing paper, tapped busily on an old typewriter, radiated enthusiasm, and wondered a little just how they were going to secure some business in a strange city where the partners each new but one man and the telephone book listed two dozen well established architects busy planning buildings.


      Collection: William Gray Purcell Papers, Northwest Architectural Archives, University of Minnesota [AR:B4d1.1]
research courtesy mark hammons